BELIZE CITY, Belize, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Hurricane Earl made landfall early Thursday in Belize as a Category 1 storm with wind gusts up to 80 mph and up to a foot of rain.
The hurricane, centered near Belize City, was moving west about 14 mph and was expected to weaken to a tropical storm later Thursday. By Friday, the storm is expected to weaken into a tropical depression.
“Earl should weaken as it crosses Central America and Mexico, and it is expected to be a tropical depression by the time the center reaches the Bay of Campeche,” the National Hurricane Center said.
Shortly after the storm made landfall, its maximum sustained winds were about 65 mph. It is forecast to dump up to 12 inches of rain in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, through Thursday night.
“These rains could result in life-threatening flash floods and mud slides,” the NHC said.
Earl is the first hurricane to make landfall in Belize since 2010. Hurricane warnings were posted for areas near and around the small country, including Chetumal, Mexico, located south of the Belize-Guatemala border. The warnings will likely be dropped later Thursday.
Residents of Belize were advised to avoid the coastal areas and to seek shelter. Many were without power early Thursday. There were no immediate reports of damages or injuries.
Earlier this weak, the storm crossed the Dominican Republic, killing six people died when power lines went down on a bus.